I feel the need to explain the current position with regard to planning applications and members of the (South Holland District Council) planning committee.
Localism was mis-sold to the public and communities as allowing places and individuals a greater influence over planning decisions.
It did not allow any such thing, of course, and only allows communities a greater say in accepting more development, not a greater influence in refusing proposals.
With regard to members of the planning committee. The rule remains that a member must go to a planning committee with an ‘unfettered mind’, prepared to be influenced by the report and the debate at that committee.
Readers will recall the recent controversy over Councillor Casson, who having expressed an opinion in advance, was no longer allowed to take part in the committee meeting, to his considerable regret.
I have been criticised by a few for not ‘nailing my colours’ to the mast on the gasifier application. Predetermination means just that – having made up your mind in advance. An open mind is a requirement for attending planning committee.
I have expressed no indication either way, for or against, the current proposal, as is the proper procedure according to our recent planning training. Nor will I.
If or when the application comes to a committee meeting, and if or when I am present, that will be the opportunity to put the community’s view, and not beforehand.
I hope that clears up once and for all the current position.